Cul-De-Sac by Joy Fielding

Hooked from the first page, this incredibly intense story begins with a description of a group of families who all live in houses on a cul-de-sac discussing the shots fired and the death which occurred the night before.

The story then moves backwards and explains the varied lives and relationships of the families living on the street and their interactions and secrets with each other up until the sudden gunshot from the early morning hours before.

First we have Nick, a highly respected doctor and his wife Dani, a southern belle who is a dentist. Nick has a tendency to pick at his wife’s pronunciation feeling her southern slang is tacky. They have two young children, both boys. From the outside looking in they seem to be the all-American family, but when the doors close, they are anything but. Nick, by the way has a gun collection.

Sean and Olivia are next. Sean is a miserable stay at home dad. He was laid off from his executive position over a year ago and has been unable to find work. Olivia, his wife, was fortunately able to get her lucrative job back at the advertising firm she worked at prior to having their children. Sean has become extremely depressed and is secretly drinking and lying to Olivia about finding work. As his anger towards everything and everyone escalates, he considers buying a gun.

Julia is an elderly widow whose husband died of cancer. Nick was his doctor. She is incredibly indebted to him. Her relationship with her only son is a bit strained, as is his son’s relationship with his own son, Mark, a man in his early twenties who would rather steal from wallets and pawn jewelry for drugs rather than get a job. Julia takes Mark in as he has nowhere to go. While rifling through old things, Mark finds his late grandfather’s gun.

Craig and Maggie found themselves living on the cul-de-sac after an incident occurred with Maggie and the family was being harassed. They were so affected they moved to another state. But Maggie’s personality changed because of what happened. She has become fearful and paranoid of everything and everyone, to the point where Craig has moved out, unable to live with her anymore. They have two children, a rebellious teenager and a young boy. Maggie secretly carries a gun in her purse everywhere she goes and keeps it by her bedside at night.

Finally, newlyweds Heidi and Aiden are happily in love, except for the fact that Aiden’s mother dislikes Heidi and is super rich and has basically bought them everything they own, even the house where they are living. This has put incredible pressure on the couple who both work at the mall and without her help could barely make ends meet. To add to their stress, Aiden sees a therapist for PSTD from what he saw during combat in the war. As his stress increases, it seems so do his flashbacks.

So here are the cast of characters who live on this beautiful street, some of whom have unbearable deep rooted secrets. As they begin to interact and get to know each other, some of the secrets begin to fall out of the houses and into the streets where others can see. So which of these neighbors will finally snap? And who is the victim?

Cul-De-Sac reads like an updated version of Peyton Place or Knot’s Landing, where the dark secrets run deep and the gossip flows like good wine! Quite the page turner!

Thank you @NetGalley @BallentineBooks @Cul-De-Sac @JoyFielding for the advanced copy.

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